Malaysia Receives Offer To Host 2026 Commonwealth Games After Australia Backs Out

There have been contrasting views on the matter.

Cover image via AFP/New Straits Times &

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Malaysia has been offered the opportunity to host the Commonwealth Games after Australia withdrew as the host for the 2026 edition last July

According to the New Straits Times, the Australian state of Victoria pulled out from hosting the Games last year due to projected increased hosting costs, from the initial AUD2.6 billion (approximately RM8.09 billion) to AUD7 billion (RM21.78 billion).

It was reported that the Victoria State Government was even willing to pay a AUD380 million (approximately RM1.17 billion) penalty for breaching its contract.

Fireworks erupt during the closing ceremony at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Image via AFP/New Straits Times

The Commonwealth Games Federation has offered Malaysia 100 million pounds (approximately RM601 million) to rescue the international sports event

In a statement on Monday, 11 March, the Olympic Council of Malaysia said it received a formal invitation from the Commonwealth Games Federation last month to replace Australia as the host nation.

In the same statement, Commonwealth Games Association of Malaysia president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria also called on the government to consider hosting the event.

"The last time Malaysia hosted the Commonwealth Games was in 1998. Thus, the association is of the opinion that the government should consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and the associated support and financial investment — which will build on the success of Kuala Lumpur 1998 and put Malaysia back onto the world sporting map," he said.

"With the existing world-class facilities, Malaysia is well-equipped to host an international event of Commonwealth magnitude involving 74 Commonwealth nations and territories. The hosting will involve minimal government spending and bring significant socio-economic benefits to the country," he added.

National Stadium Bukit Jalil was built to host the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

Image via Aswadi Alias/New Straits Times

Former National Sports Council director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz also believes Malaysia should be bold and take up the offer

In an interview with Bernama, Ramlan said the investment of 100 million pounds by the Commonwealth Games Federation itself would not involve much risk for Malaysia.

He added the event could ease the country's financial burden, as other countries would also be paying for their participation, accommodation, food, and flights for their respective contingents.

"If we carefully study, there is no big risks involved, especially with the injection of funds from the Commonwealth Games Federation. We will not progress if we are always looking for an easy path or be cautious in accepting challenges because any country can only move forward if they are ready to take risks by weighing the positive factors.

"Therefore, the Youth and Sports Ministry must study all aspects before preparing and submitting a working paper to the cabinet for consideration and decision," he said.

Former National Sports Council director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz.

Image via Bernama

However, Sports Commissioner Suhardi Alias has expressed his reservations about Malaysia attempting to salvage the event at such short notice

According to Free Malaysia Today, Suhardi said the plan by the Olympic Council of Malaysia is shocking, financially risky, and short-sighted.

"Why do we want to be the saviour for the Games when Victoria dumped it, and nobody else wants it?" he said, adding that he is against wasting public funds for what he perceives is an unsound purpose.

The Sports Commissioner questioned whether the government would have enough time to study the financial implications of hosting the event, given that it is only two years away. He also pointed out that Malaysia is scheduled to host the 2027 SEA Games the following year.

Suhardi highlighted the significant tasks ahead for Malaysia, which may include building a new Commonwealth Games village for the athletes and other necessary infrastructure, as well as the need for heightened security throughout the event.

"We have to also take into consideration the fate of the Birmingham city council, which organised the last Commonwealth Games.

"The council ignored advice not to host the Games despite being in serious financial difficulties and declared bankrupt last year," he said.

Sports Commissioner Suhardi Alias.

Image via Bernama/Free Malaysia Today

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said the cabinet will decide on the matter soon

Yeoh said her ministry is preparing a cabinet paper that encompasses the results of studies on various aspects of organising the Commonwealth Games.

"I cannot comment on this matter. We will submit all the study results to the cabinet for a decision.

"It's not just financial. There are many factors that need to be looked at and studied, so I can't comment. The cabinet paper is almost ready," she said when asked about the matter on Saturday, 9 March, as quoted by the New Straits Times.

Malaysia's medal tally was seven gold, eight silver, and eight bronze at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games:

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